It’s probably a safe bet that many people will decide to start running as a New Year’s resolution. I think it’s an awesome idea. For me, recreational running has been a great way to stay fit and challenge myself. Since it isn’t the easiest habit to pick up, I thought I’d share five tips that have helped me stick with it over the years.
Running is tough. There’s no way around it. But it doesn’t need to be a lung-searing, knee-busting experience. Only increase the time, distance, and pace you run gradually to avoid injuries and stay motivated. A great approach for newcomers is training sessions that mix walking and running. Check out this beginners guide from Runner’s World magazine for some ideas. And as long as you do at least some running, you’re as “real” a runner as anybody.
Last summer, British track star Mo Farah stunned the world by winning a rare double gold at the London Olympics (Here’s video of the 10,000-metre and 5,000-metre finals). For the 29 year old, the highlight of his athletic career came after more than 15 years of training and racing. While an extraordinary example, it shows what running is all about: delayed gratification. Don’t expect big things right away, but count on good results if you put in consistent work.
It could be running one mile without stopping, jogging three times every week, or, heck, maybe even completing the 125-kilometre Canadian Death Race ultramarathon in Grande Cache, Alta. Pick a concrete goal to stay motivated and give your training a purpose. Signing up for a spring road race can help. In Vancouver, the 10-kilometre Sun Run in April is by far the most popular, but there are also many smaller (and shorter!) events, like the St. Patrick’s Day 5k or the Dave Reed Spring Classic 5k, both in March.
I could go for a run after an all-nighter scarfing hot dogs and chugging beer. But, in my experience, running is more enjoyable when I eat well and get enough sleep (I’ll let the experts tell you what constitutes proper nutrition and rest). Taking care of your feet is important too. Buy some well-made, comfortable running shoes and socks (Again, the experts can tell you what’s best here). In Vancouver, visit Forerunners, the Running Room, or Rackets & Runners to check out the latest footwear and test drive a pair. These stores also organize running groups and clinics.
What are you into? Zoning out on a treadmill with your iPod, chatting with a friend while you jog to Starbucks, getting muddy on the North Shore trails, joining a competitive running club like VFAC? There’s no right way to get into running. But however you do it, have fun.
I hope these tips help. If you have any others, feel free to share them in the comments section below.